On Thursday afternoon, the House voted in favor of passing a sizable re-up on funding for American workers and businesses.
The new $484 billion stimulus package allocates $320 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a platform created within the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress at the end of March.
The PPP, originally endowed with $349 billion, ran out of funding last week, heightening the anxieties of small business owners across the country. The measure provides businesses with less than 500 employees with short-term loans to help keep their staff on payroll, help pay rent, mortgages and utilities, or help pay off interest on debt.
Seeking to rectify some of the issues with the original program, Congress allocated about $60 billion of the additional PPP capital to businesses that don’t have established banking relationships. Democrats raised concerns that some small businesses were at a disadvantage in procuring funding during the program’s first iteration because they did not have previous loans with prominent lenders.
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) disaster relief fund will also see a boost in loans and grants, to the tune of $60 billion. Hospitals will receive $75 billion, and $25 billion will be allocated for coronavirus testing, the New York Times reported.
Though it lacked some of the provisions that Democrats had pushed for, like additional funding for state and local governments, the new bill was approved in by a landslide, with votes tallied at 388-5.
President Trump signed the bill, which has now been approved by both branches of Congress, on Friday.
The move comes amid fervent outcry from businesses and trade groups across industries and regions.
In a memo released Wednesday, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, the Accessories Council, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and the U.S. Fashion Industry Association joined more than 60 international trade organizations representing the fashion sector in demanding aid from governments, supply chain partners and stakeholders.
On Thursday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) praised the House’s approval of the new legislation.
“There are many small retailers that won’t be in business by the time the economy reopens if these loans dry up,” president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This funding will let them keep their workers on the payroll and help the economy avoid the ripple effects that will come if additional businesses cease to operate and more people lose their jobs.”
The bill, Shay added, would ensure that businesses unable to participate in the first round of loans would have a chance to attain funding.
Nearly 200,000 small retailers have garnered loans through the PPP thus far, NRF said, receiving an average loan of $155,000 each and totaling $29 billion. Since the SBA’s funds dried up last week, however, it has stopped taking applications.
With the cash replenishment approved and pending, however, those applications should be reinstated in the coming days.
“This is an important step on the path to recovery not just for these businesses but our nation as a whole,” Shay said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect President Trump’s signature of the stimulus bill on Friday, April 24.